Best New Artists

February's group of Best New Artists features KayCyy, Daniel Price, Mike Dimes, Deyaz, Rellyski, Memphis LK, underscores, Babyface Ray, Uwade, and Fatboi Sharif

BNA february lead image 2021

Image by Sho Hanafusa

BNA february lead image 2021

Every month, we round up some of our favorite new music discoveries. Look back at all of our Best New Artists here and keep up with them all on the Best New Artists playlists on Spotify and Apple.

Memphis LK

memphis lk press photo

Like many artists, Memphis LK spent lockdown making her sound her own, patiently waiting for the world to reopen and for shows to return. Two years later, she’s finally ready for her debut. The Melbourne singer/producer’s canon of work on streaming services is sparse; it includes just seven singles, one of which is a Tame Impala cover. It’s easy to trace Memphis’ evolution as a producer and artist from her days as half of electropop duo SAATSUMA to her latest single “tricky.” 

Memphis LK’s voice is wispy and delicate, bobbing and weaving over her frenetic drum and bass production. Her music takes noticeable cues from underground electronic influences (she taught herself Ableton by reverse engineering Detroit techno, UK garage, and breakbeat songs), yet it’s the sticky pop hooks that make singles like “tricky” and “Green Light” so addictive. A once-over of her 2020 single “Letters in Concrete” had me looping the track for hours. A few months later, it’s still in constant rotation. It’s one of those songs you’ll wish you could re-hear for the first time.

Memphis LK is currently working on her first EP. She tells us, “I spent the last 2 years of lockdowns and no gigs literally just trying to become properly good at production and I have a lot of new music coming that I’m so excited about.” As for what else we can look forward to in the coming months, she says, “I’ve also got my debut remixes for some pretty big international artists in the works at the moment. As well as getting my live show ready for some festivals (Pitch, Splendour in the Grass) and a couple of tours with some of my favorite local producers/artists!”Madeline Quach

View this video on YouTube

Mike Dimes

Mike Dimes Press Photo Jalin Morgan

Though there’s never been a shortage of new and talented hip-hop acts, few are moving with the same ambitious and insatiable energy as Texas’s Mike Dimes. With close to three million monthly listeners on Spotify, Dimes has spent the past year capturing the attention of new fans with each release. From the handful of carefully crafted (and subsequently viral) TikTok bangers to his debut LP DLOG, Mike Dimes is living proof that the best route to success is found by taking risks, being yourself, and loving what you do.

Pulling from a wide range of Southern influences, Dimes has fostered a signature yet homogenous style. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a talented writer too, and from the bounce of DLOG’s Three 6 Mafia-adjacent “LABELS CALLIN’” to the uneasy and vulnerable laments on “PAIN!,” he has consistently proven that he’s capable of more than churning out aux-ready hits. Underneath the symbols of fame and success lies a genuinely passionate and magnetic artist, flexing personal charm no matter how bass-heavy the mix or how ominous the flow.

With his newest release “HOME,” thankfully it seems like 2021 was merely a sampling of what Mike Dimes has in store. As if it was a culmination of everything that preceded it, “HOME” is a strong dose of originality in an era where artists are pressured to conform. In the song’s Simon Chasalow-directed video, Mike Dimes delivers genuine confidence while strings and kicks give the track an aura of cinematic intensity. Mike Dimes holds nothing back on his first release of 2022.

Holding the South’s legacy in one hand and the future of hip-hop in the other, Mike Dimes is an artist who deserves to be on everyone’s radar this year. With his next record dropping this March, and an almost unstoppable momentum pushing him into the hip-hop stratosphere, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes one of the genre’s next big stars.Carter Fife

Catch Mike Dimes on tour with EARTHGANG from April with additional openers selected by Pigeons & Planes. Dates here.

View this video on YouTube


deyaz press photo by jesse crankson

For Deyaz, music is therapy, first and foremost. It’s been an integral part of the London-born artist’s life from teaching himself guitar as a child through exploring rock and grunge classics to formal music education and working as a studio engineer. His upcoming debut mixtape Why Not draws on Deyaz’ experiences with homelessness, addiction, and mental health crises for an emotionally raw but ultimately cathartic listening experience.

Touching on a wide array of genres and sounds, Why Not flows surprisingly smoothly from pop-leaning hooks to left-field vocal layering, from shimmering synth backdrops to jazzy percussion—this versatility is on full display on the four singles that are already out. As such, Deyaz’ own description of himself as a “non-confined musician” makes perfect sense.

“My first mixtape Why Not is based around mental health struggles and learning how to break from the toxicity in my life,” he tells us. “For new listeners, it will give an insight into some of the daily battles I’ve been facing for the last couple years. As more projects come out, fans will hopefully be able to see growth through the topics I talk about and help guide them to a positive outcome if they have experienced similar feelings.”

Social media savvy is yet another string to his bow. Deyaz has also built an impressive following on TikTok, where he posts stripped back performances of upcoming songs, covers, and other snippets multiple times per week. Deyaz’ focus on music and music alone on the platform has connected, and he now has almost 500k followers. “TikTok has been an amazing tool to grow and communicate my music with others since I began in lockdown, but I’m also now excited for people to hear my music in its entirety and hopefully build a bigger picture of me as an artist and get my message across in full,” he says. Look out for the mixtape, coming soon.—Alex Gardner

Fatboi Sharif

Fatboi Sharif

It’s not uncommon to hear that some rappers put very little planning into their music. Many artists prefer to freestyle their way through songs, but New Jersey’s Fatboi Sharif does things a little differently. “There’s actually always a lot of that goes into putting the songs together,” he explains. “First it’s picking the right production that speaks to me a certain way, and from there I’ll sit with it for a few weeks and sleep to it on repeat. I’ll dream and see certain visions, colors, and shapes that speak to the production canvas.”

He’s equally thoughtful about his rhyme schemes, song structures, and hitting the right tone while recording. The mission: to create music that’s worth the energy it takes to unravel the layers. It’s a poetic approach that draws us to the work of artists like Earl Sweatshirt, MF DOOM, and MAVI, but Fatboi Sharif has a jarring touch—dark wit, twisted storytelling, and gnarled deliveries give his music an animated charisma. If a rap posse formed from today’s up-and-comers who favor dusty loops and heady verses, Sharif could be the ODB.

Fatboi Sharif’s 2021 album Gandhi Loves Children, a collaboration with producer Roper Williams (Pink Siifu, Fly Anakin, Maxo), is a perfect late night mindfuck from start to finish, and Sharif has another project coming in March, produced in full by LoneSword. “It’s incredible. We real proud of it so look out for that and lots of other surprises and announcements, so just keep your ears and eyes open. Just enter with a open mind and enjoy the ride. Peace and blessings.”—Jacob Moore

View this video on YouTube


underscores press photo february

To say that underscores makes hyperpop would be a gross oversimplification. Sure, the San Francisco native has some of the most addictive and refreshing production out right now, but that’s only half the appeal. Behind the turbulent sonics, there always lies a song that would sound just as good stripped down. For underscores, chaotic production simply mirrors the existential weight of their songwriting.

Last year underscores released two bodies of work, fishmonger and boneyard aka fearmonger. For this era, the seasoned SoundCloud producer expanded their palate by picking up the guitar and hurling the instrument into radically new contexts. Songs like “Spoiled little brat” erupt with chopped up power chords, while softer cuts like “Del mar county fair 2008” mesh fingerpicked acoustics with 808s and pitched vocals. Perhaps the most unforgettable, and comically unplaylistable, example is “Gunk”—a vulnerable acoustic ballad beginning with exactly seven seconds of dubstep. underscores’ knack for recontextualizing the familiar truly lives up to the producer tag that echos across their recent discography: “it’s the new wave of the future.”

underscores is currently in the midst of a US mini-tour and busy plotting their next steps. “I dropped a lot of music last year and currently have like nothing in the vault lol,” they tell us via DM. “2022 is gonna be a lot of me just trying to make new stuff. I don’t wanna give away too much but I’m definitely playing with some new sounds.”Nico Tripodi

View this video on YouTube


KayCyy photo best new artist

Trust is essential in making a name for yourself in music, and Kenya-born melody-maker KayCyy has deservingly earned trust across the board. He has the faith of his collaborators like Ye, who tapped him to sprinkle some of his Chemical X on Donda. His fans trust him enough to change their profile pictures on social media to orange circles at his request. And, beyond that, he trusts himself—to the point where he’s convinced he has the album of the year in the form of his upcoming effort Who is KayCyy.  

His journey in the spotlight may have begun as one of Ye’s secret weapons during the Donda sessions, providing references for tracks like “24,” “Hurricane” and “Keep My Spirit Alive,” but audiences are just now looking to KayCyy to supply them with melodic triumphs of his own. And he’s already started. Since the back-end of 2021, the 24-year-old has released two singles in the Lancey Foux-featuring “Stay Up” and Gesaffelstein team-up “OKAY,” the latter of which made KayCyy’s synthy-laced vocal flourishes shine without even needing drums to prove his point. He plans to do the same on upcoming single “The Sun,” dropping sometime in the near future with a chorus that should put those comparisons to Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, or other similarly Auto-Tuned forefathers to bed. 

KayCyy’s new solo material has caught the attention of Drake, too, who decided to place “Stay Up” in the background of a basketball highlight clip on Instagram. So if KayCyy can bring the best out of Ye, and make Drake seemingly look like an NBA all-star, there’s no telling what his future holds as long as his trust in himself remains intact. If it helps, we trust him now, too.

“I’m just excited to give my fans what they’ve been waiting for and to introduce the world to a new sound…these singles are prepping they ears for what I’m coming with on my album,” KayCyy shares. “We’re just getting started”—Brenton Blanchet 

View this video on YouTube


Uwade press. photo february

Permeating through the fog, 22-year old Uwade transports us to dreamy, hazy summer days filled with lightness and serenity. Each of her four released songs are both delicate and didactic, showing a purposeful selection of quality over quantity. 

Born in Nigeria and raised in North Carolina, Uwade is not just a singer, but a scholar. Studying classics at both Oxford and Harvard, her education and literary knowledge shine through her music. Her vocals are mesmerizing, tying in influence from her spiritual upbringing and creating an instant calming, healing effect. Upon first listen, you may recognize her voice from the opening track on the Fleet Foxes Grammy-nominated album Shore. This unique opportunity came about after the lead singer of Fleet Foxes found a cover of one of their songs by Uwade on YouTube.

Uwade elegantly utilizes acoustic guitars, choral harmonies, and soft drums to give her music its warmth. Her first single “Nostalgia” is the perfect introduction. The song feels like a romantic picnic early in spring wrapped up into three minutes and 49 seconds.

“Lodarore” is decadent and whimsical. It’s a cover of a song by Edo musician Sir Victor Uwaifo and serves as a stunningly beautiful tribute to her late father. “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow” is equally evocative and speaks on the combined experience of mortality. Uwade soothingly reminds us to be thoughtful with the limited time we have and to enjoy all we can. Her most recent single “Do You See the Light Around Me?” makes her vocal talent seem effortless as Uwade glides over a simple, soothing beat that highlights her feathery voice.

In the new year, Uwade shares that she’s been spending her time “listening to other artists, to friends, and to the world around me; reading poems from thousands of years ago and short stories from contemporary authors; absorbing the musical stuff of the world everywhere I can.” She adds, “I’m really really hoping to translate this sense of reflection into my upcoming releases and can’t wait to share more with you all!”—Sabine Adorney

View this video on YouTube

Babyface Ray

Babyface Ray press photo feb bna

Babyface Ray is a name to add to your rap repertoire in 2022, if you haven’t already. Repping Detroit, Ray has been deep in the rap game since 2014 and is finally garnering the attention his music deserves. His 2021 EP Unfuckwitable brought success with breakout hit “If You Know You Know” featuring Moneybagg Yo, and other standouts like “What The Business Is” and “Like Daisy Lane.” Not even a year later and we have Ray’s debut album Face.

Face is a captivating look into what the rapper has to offer. Well-meditated delivery, creative sampling, and sincere lyricism all mirror Ray’s passionate energy and hunger. The star-studded features—including artists like Pusha T, G Herbo, Wiz Khalifa, 42 Dugg, and Yung Lean—help complete the album while highlighting the respect Babyface Ray has earned from his industry peers. 

During Face’s intro track “In My Thoughts 3/Pop’s Prayer,” Babyface Ray pours pensive lyrics over an unexpected sample of “Apologize” by OneRepublic. His father, a church pastor, ties off the track with a beautiful personalized prayer—a meaningful moment for Ray, who had struggled with staying loyal to both religion and rap. Wiz meets Ray in the middle on “Kush & Codeine,’’ while “Dancing With The Devil” is a seductive dancehall bop with a well-placed Pusha feature. “Overtime” takes a split beat approach and manages to mix and match ‘80s synth, cowbells, Yung Lean’s soul-stirring vocals, and Ray’s wordplay. 

Babyface Ray pulls inspiration from classic Detroit rap culture, layering tracks with funky and ominous melodies, restless drums, and quick quipped verses delivered with a cool yet aggressive fervor. The closeout on the album “Motown Music” serves as an obvious callout to this midwestern inspiration.

The success has been a long time coming. “I been preparing for this all my life for real,” Babyface Ray tells us. “I’m just excited to be in the moment each year. The ups, the downs, good and bad has molded me to this person. I’m excited for fans to listen to my art, it’s kinda like when someone walks through a museum and sees different pieces.”—Sabine Adorney

View this video on YouTube

Daniel Price

daniel price video girl photo

Daniel Price’s “Video Girl” marks the start of a busy year for the rising artist. It’s the first single from the Peaking EP, set for release this spring, with two more EPs to follow throughout 2022. The song is accompanied by a video with a surprising twist at the end, starting to build a world around Daniel that is as nostalgia-tinged and refined as his music.

“The song was made during one of my first trips to LA. I was staying at this loft in downtown and was just constantly running around making memories with the women I was meeting,” Daniel tells us. “After a while, everything that felt romantic about LA faded kinda quickly and I just knew I needed to capture everything I was feeling. ‘Video Girl’ came from that time period.” Of the video, he adds, “Once the world we wanted to build was fully realized and it was time to shoot a video, I basically became a method actor. Trying to take the gritty and egotistical emotions I was feeling and personify them into this larger than life character.”

As well as possessing a smooth, honeyed voice, Daniel Price writes and produces all of his own music, in control of the full package from idea to execution. “Video Girl” is the perfect introduction, and the upcoming music builds on those solid foundations, revealing an artist who knows the value of restraint as he builds a catalog of thoughtful modern pop songs.—Alex Gardner

View this video on YouTube


Rellyski Miami rapper Bad Habit

Some of the most exciting new artists are breaking the rules, and others are bending them. 22-year-old Miami rapper Rellyski is incorporating a lot of what’s already happening in music right now, but in his own subtle ways he’s taking them up a notch and contorting modern styles to create his own. His beat selection, flows, and hooks make perfect sense given that popular music is dominated by acts like Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, and Gunna. But for a newcomer, Rellyski is already way ahead of imitators and soundalikes. 

Rellyski grew up watching his mother work overtime to pay bills, and he eventually went to college on a football scholarship before facing his own challenges with financial stability. He turned to music, and by 2018 he left school to pursue a career as an artist. He’s only a few years in, but he’s not unsure about what he wants to accomplish: “I want to be the greatest to ever do it,” Rellyski says, “but my goal is to show people that it doesn’t matter what you come from, you can be yourself and make it. As long as you stay true to yourself, I feel like that’s the best thing for anyone.”

Throughout his 2022 SKI SZN mixtape, the up-and-comer signed to Bad Habit showcases his potential for the kind of mainstream success he aims for. He opts for melodic production with just enough empty space for him to find pockets, and he finds those pockets in every song. Every line is a potential hook, and he dishes them out like it’s a reflex. Tracks like “Spalding,” “Shake N Bake,” and “Right/Left” would be hits if an A-lister’s name was on them, and this is Rellyski’s only full project out. Best case scenario is Rellyski starts experimenting, refining his unique skillset, and standing out even more. But even if he keeps doing exactly what he’s doing now, don’t be surprised if he’s got a couple of hits under his belt by this time next year.—Jacob Moore

View this video on YouTube